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Eating Disorder Warning Signs

Signs and Symptoms of an Eating Disorder

Anorexia and Bulimia

  • Dramatic weight loss in a relatively short period of time
  • Wearing big or baggy clothes or dressing in layers to hide body shape and/or weight loss
  • Obsession with weight and complaining of weight problems (even if "average" weight or thin)
  • Obsession with calories and fat content of foods
  • Obsession with continuous exercise
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom immediately following meals (sometimes accompanied with water running in the bathroom for a long period of time to hide the sound of vomiting)
  • Visible food restriction and self-starvation
  • Visible bingeing and/or purging
  • Use or hiding use of diet pills, laxatives, ipecac syrup (can cause immediate death!) or enemas
  • Isolation, fear of eating around and with others
  • Unusual food rituals such as shifting the food around on the plate to look eaten, cutting food into tiny pieces, making sure the fork avoids contact with the lips (using teeth to scrap food off the fork or spoon), chewing food and spitting it out (but not swallowing), dropping food into napkin on lap to later throw away
  • Hiding food in strange places (closets, cabinets, suitcases, under the bed) to avoid eating (Anorexia) or to eat at a later time (Bulimia)
  • Flushing uneaten food down the toilet (can cause sewage problems)
  • Vague or secretive eating patterns
  • Keeping a "food diary" or lists of food and/or behaviors (for example, purging, restricting, calories consumed, exercise, etc.)
  • Pre-occupied thoughts of food, weight and cooking
  • Visiting websites that promote unhealthy ways to lose weight
  • Reading books about weight loss and eating disorders
  • Self-defeating statements after food consumption
  • Hair loss
  • Pale or "grey" appearance to the skin
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Frequent sore throats and/or swollen glands
  • Low self-esteem, feeling worthless, self-deprecation and need for acceptance and approval from others
  • Complaints of often feeling cold
  • Low blood pressure
  • Loss of menstrual cycle
  • Constipation or incontinence
  • Bruised or callused knuckles, bloodshot or bleeding in the eyes, light bruising under the eyes and on the cheeks
  • Perfectionist personality
  • Loss of sexual desire or promiscuous relations
  • Mood swings, depression or fatigue
  • Insomnia, poor sleeping habits

Compulsive Eating and Binge Eating Disorder

  • Fear of not being able to control eating, and while eating, not being able to stop
  • Isolation, fear of eating around and with others
  • Chronic dieting on a variety of popular diet plans
  • Holding the belief that life will be better if they can lose weight
  • Hiding food in strange places (closets, cabinets, suitcases, under the bed) to eat at a later time
  • Vague or secretive eating patterns
  • Self-defeating statements after food consumption
  • Blames failure in social and professional community on weight
  • Holding the belief that food is their only friend
  • Frequently out of breath after relatively light activities
  • Excessive sweating and shortness of breath
  • High blood pressure and/or cholesterol
  • Leg and joint pain.
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased mobility due to weight gain
  • Loss of sexual desire or promiscuous relations
  • Mood swings, depression or fatigue
  • Insomnia, poor sleeping habits